Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FASHION

Paris, Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2014-2015.

Read more

REPORTERS

Exclusive: an unlikely victim of the 'War on Terror'

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

2014-07-11 21:47 AFRICA NEWS

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Finally, a good use for new app "Yo"

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 11 July 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 11 July 2014

Read more

#THE 51%

Sweden: A Feminist's Paradise?

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Politics: parties under pressure

Read more

FOCUS

In Burma, the rise of radical Buddhism

Read more

  • UN Security Council calls for Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire

    Read more

  • Holland beat hosts Brazil 3-0 to finish third in World Cup

    Read more

  • Afghan presidential candidates agree to full vote audit, Kerry says

    Read more

  • France’s Kadri wins eighth stage at Tour de France

    Read more

  • Legal challenge to French mayor’s ban of Muslim hijab on beach

    Read more

  • Last of the Ramones, Tommy Ramone, dies aged 62

    Read more

  • Video: Outrage in wake of deadly Casablanca buildings collapse

    Read more

  • Iraqi forces ‘executed prisoners in reprisal’ for ISIS killings

    Read more

  • Ukraine promises retaliation after rebel assault

    Read more

  • Putin revives old Cuban flame and eyes Latin American minerals

    Read more

  • Amazon snubs French free delivery ban with one-cent charge

    Read more

  • Cleveland's NBA fans hail 'return of king' LeBron James

    Read more

  • Exclusive: an unlikely victim of the 'War on Terror'

    Read more

  • Magnitude 6.8 quake, small tsunami hit east Japan

    Read more

  • Suspect in Brussels Jewish Museum shooting drops extradition appeal

    Read more

Europe

Court convicts 23 ex-CIA agents in imam kidnapping trial

©

Video by Christophe DANSETTE , Luke SHRAGO

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2009-11-05

A top Italian court has convicted 23 American former CIA agents plus two Italian nationals for the 2003 kidnapping of an Egyptian imam in Milan. The court handed down prison sentences to all those convicted.

AFP - An Italian judge Wednesday convicted 23 US and two Italian former secret agents for the CIA's kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric in 2003 under the covert "extraordinary rendition" programme.
   

The CIA's Milan station chief at the time, Robert Seldon Lady, was sentenced to eight years in prison and the other Americans to five years, all in their absence in the landmark trial.
   
The two Italians were given three-year prison terms following the first trial involving the transfer of a "war on terror" suspect by CIA operatives thought to have sent scores of people to countries known to practise torture.
   
The CIA chief for Italy at the time, Jeffrey Castelli, and the then head of Italian military intelligence SISMI, Nicolo Pollari, were protected by state secrecy rules, while two other American defendants benefitted from diplomatic immunity, Judge Oscar Magi said.
   
Prosecutor Armando Spataro hailed the verdict, saying the trial, which opened in June 2007, had demonstrated "the truth of the investigation."
   
Spataro had sought a 13-year jail term for Castelli and Pollari -- who was forced to quit over the affair.
   
Osama Mustafa Hassan, an imam better known as Abu Omar, was snatched from a Milan street on February 17, 2003, in the operation coordinated by the CIA and SISMI.
   
The radical Islamist opposition figure, who enjoyed political asylum in Italy, was allegedly taken to the US air force base in Aviano, northeastern Italy, then flown to the US base in Ramstein, Germany, and on to Cairo where he says he was tortured.
   

In the field: "The trial is a landmark case, the first test of the US extraordinary rendition program"
The "extraordinary rendition" programme was set up by the administration of then-president George W. Bush in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.
   
The imam's captors failed to take many standard precautions, notably speaking openly on cell phones, leaving investigators to suspect that the Americans had cleared their intentions with senior Italian intelligence officials.
   
The rights group Human Rights Watch hailed the verdict, even though the two highest-ranking officials were not convicted.
   
"No one was found innocent," noted Joanne Mariner, while lamenting those who "got off the hook because of the Constitutional Court's overbroad interpretation of state secrecy."
   
"The Italian government was found responsible for collaborating with the CIA. It was a brave ruling for an Italian court," Mariner told AFP.
   
"And we agree with the prosecutors that diplomatic immunity is not meant to cover people involved in grave human rights abuses," said Mariner, director of HRW's Terrorism and Anti-Terrorism Programme.
   
The trial was delayed as successive Italian governments sought to have it thrown out as a threat to national security. Defendants argued that state secrecy rules prevented them from being able to prove their innocence.
   
The issue went before Italy's Constitutional Court, which agreed that part of the investigation had violated state secrecy provisions but said the prosecution could use evidence obtained correctly.
   
Spataro earlier Wednesday rejected the court ruling, saying: "There is no legal structure under which SISMI and the CIA could agree to carry out a kidnapping. It is absolutely against Italian law."
   
The prosecutor lamented what he called the "twisted logic" behind an operation that broke the law as well as sending a suspect to endure torture.
   
"This only encourages the multiplication of terrorists," said Spataro, who became known for his work against the left-wing militant group the Red Brigades that was active in the 1970s.

 

Date created : 2009-11-04

Comments

COMMENT(S)